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Get A Life Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Chronic pain, abandonment, anxiety, domestic abuse, minor talk of imposter syndrome

“Bravery wasn’t an identity, so much as a choice.”

I feel like my heart might combust from how much I loved this book. Setting this book down, only when I needed sleep. I mainly picked this book up because of the representation in this book, but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this book so hard. My first Talia Hibbert book and I’m completely hooked!

Get A Life Chloe Brown is an ownvoices story about a a main character named Chloe Brown, a plus-sized Black woman who has fibromyalgia and chronic pain. After having a near death accident, Chloe has decided that it’s high time she gets a life. Thus, her ‘Get a Life’ bucket list was born! So she packs up and moves to an apartment complex. The complex is the perfect fresh start to her ‘Get a Life’ bucket list, but there’s just one problem… his name is Red Morgan. Leaving the past behind him, Red just wants to start over and heal from the aftermath of his past abusive relationship. He’s handsome, charming, and the superintendent of his best friend’s apartment complex building. Everyone seems to love him, everyone except Chloe. Then one day, fate makes their paths cross in the unlikeliest way (with one cat stuck up in a tree) and soon they’ve worked out a deal. Chloe will build Red a website and in exchange, he helps her with her ‘Get a Life’ list.

I loved Chloe Brown as a main character! Not only is she’s so brilliantly smart, but she’s brave, sassy, and such a nerdy gamer girl! It was impossible for me not to love her especially as the female love interest. But the main reason I took such an interest in wanting to read this book was the chronic illness and pain representation. I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I do live with chronic pain and chronic illness. Seeing the way the author handled chronic pain and chronic illness in this book with Chloe, it’s so spot on. I haven’t really read any books that have really show how people living with chronic pain and illness live day to day, how they feel, and the reality of how it impacts relationships. I felt so scene and every time something would happen with Chloe, it hit me in all the soft spots of my heart.

“When she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, she clung to moments like this : The first shower after a flare-up.

Bliss should be held on to with both hands.”

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the plus-sized representation in this book? As a plus-sized reader, I loved the way the author took time to really show Chloe is confident in her body size, how she’s desired by the love interest by her curves, but I think the most important thing I really loved about this book is zero moments of Chloe’s size holding her back or impacting her negatively. I adored how the author handled the plus-sized representation and this is probably going to be one of my favorite plus-sized representations in romance, thus far!

If you’re a lover of enemies to lovers relationships, then you’re going to love this book. I think enemies to lovers is one of my favorite tropes and Hibbert executes it so well. When I say it was near impossible to put this down because of the banter, the chemistry, and the misunderstandings, it was so good. Also, I loved the way it took a cat being stuck in a tree for them to start getting closer. The best way to really hook me, include any situation with a cat. That’s all you need to know.

I also really loved Red’s character. He’s very much a “bad boy”, but the way the author wrote him just stole my heart. He’s a complete cinnamon roll who takes great care about Chloe’s limitations. He’s never possessive or has a toxic demeanor about him, despite him coming off as intimidating and the hardships he’s experienced. He’s charming, respectful and he still visits his mother to check in on her. My heart! Plus, the banter he shares with Chloe and his nickname for her, all the love arrows in my soul!

“You were hurt, and you reacted. You were in an unhealthy situation in more ways than one, and you panicked and cleansed everything with fire. Don’t dismiss your emotions and your self-protection as just a fucked-up decision. Don’t reduce something so complex and real and important to nothing.”

I also want to take a moment to talk about the fact that Red’s character is healing and rebuilding after the trauma of his past abusive relationship. As someone who has survived many traumas, the way Red will have moments where he remembers the past or how he’ll compare Chloe to his ex, it’s all very accurate and well represented. What I loved most was how it not only addresses that the abuser in the relationship was Red’s ex-girlfriend (even more so since those relationships often get overlooked), but also that it shows that while someone can hurt you to the point of feeling broken in all the ways, someone can come along and help heal you from that. I also liked how the author included a flashback scene as well to show that domestic abuse can sometimes overlap into PTSD territory.

And of course, this wouldn’t be one of my true reviews if I didn’t talk about the family dynamic. I loved how Chloe’s family is so close and how they all try to look out for one another. I loved how Eve and Dani check in on Chloe, try to spend time with her, and just have that usual sisterly banter. I also loved how Chloe sought out wisdom from her grandmother, Gigi, for advice on love. Something about the elderly giving their wisdom to the younger generations just always melts my heart. And I loved how we see the family come together at the end. It really fills my heart with so much warmth to see the family dynamics in the book.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell, I’m head over heels for this book. I can’t wait to continue this series especially since there’s nothing but good things being said about the next book in the series. I had such a wonderful experience reading Talia’s book that it has me hooked on wanting to look into more of her books. If you were thinking about trying this series out, let me tell you, it’s worth it. It’s so, so worth it and I have no doubt you’ll love these characters as much as I do.

“Love is certainly never safe, but it’s absolutely worth it.”

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The Perfect Hope (Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, #3) by Nora Roberts

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💐 The Next Always (InnBoonsBoro Trilogy, #1) | ⭐⭐⭐⭐

💐 The Last Boyfriend (InnBoonsBoro Trilogy, #2)| ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, loss of a loved one, talk of cheating & adultry, toxic relationship, talk of parental abuse, scene of assault, scene of graphic war themes (Ryder’s dream)

We have finally reached the end of this trilogy. I just don’t want this series to end, ever. I love these characters, this town, and just every bit that went into making this trilogy. I say this all the time, but this really is a great series to read if you’re new to Nora Robert’s work. I truly love this series and it will always have a piece of my heart.

If you haven’t guessed by now, we’re following Hope Beaumont and Ryder Montgomery in this book. Hope was recruited by Avery MacTavish and Clare Brewster to move to BoonsBoro to be the inn keeper at Inn BoonsBoro. Even though her friends are happy to have her and Justine is thrilled to have such a confident inn keeper, Ryder Montgomery is anything but happy about it all. Of all the Montgomery boys, Ryder is the hardest nut to crack. He’s anti-social and can’t see Hope as anything other than a city girl. But after a New Year’s kiss, things have somehow shifted between the unlikely pair and soon they’ll realize what their hearts’ desires are.

“Time with a friend was as refreshing as a nap.”

💐 Hope Beaumont – The inn keeper for the newly redesigned Inn BoonsBoro by the Montgomery. Recently moved to BoonsBoro for a fresh start and the former manager of a D.C. hotel. She’s confident, independent, and right where she wants to be in life…except for in the love department. And constantly sparring with Ryder Montgomery.

💐 Ryder Montgomery – The hardest, most stubborn, alpha male of the Montgomery family. He’s anti-social and hard to figure out, but he’s honest and fair. But there’s only one person who gets under his skin and her name is Hope Beaumont.

💐 Elizabeth/Eliza – The spirit who lives at the historical inn the Montgomery family is fixing up. Waiting at the inn for her Billy to return to her.

💐 Justine Montgomery – Sassy mother of the Montgomery brothers and the head boss over every project the Montgomery boys take on.

💐 Beckett & Own Montgomery – Brothers to Owen Montgomery, Beckett the architect and husband to Clare Brewster/Montgomery, father of three boys and Owen the organizer of the Montgomery family and engaged to Avery MacTavish.

💐 Clare Brewster/Montgomery & Avery MacTavish – Best friends to Hope. Clare is the wife of Beckett Montgomery, mother of three boys with an exciting bundle of love on the way and Avery is the fiance of Owen Montgomery, owner of MacT’s Restaurant and Tap Room.

I say this all the time as well. I love these characters. They’re fantastic and I swear, Justine is such a delightful, sassy, take no b.s. character that I absolutely love. They’re wonderful in their own ways and they’re always there for one another. Even more so in this book. We really see how everyone rallies to Hope and how Ryder stands by her in very specific moments.

“It’s never simple.” Avery slid an arm around Hope’s waist. “It shouldn’t be. Because being with someone should matter enough to be at least a little bit complicated.”

I’m not going to lie, I loved the way Hope and Ryder somehow balance each other out and are exactly what one another need. Hope can handle herself and throw it right back at Ryder when he’s being alpha. She challenges him, gets under his skin, but despite all that, she’s drawn to him because he’s stable and honest. Ryder drives Hope up a wall, always assumes she’s just a city girl, but he’s drawn to her for her strong will and independence. Not to mention, their intimacy and chemistry is 10/10.

Of course, I have to talk about the sense of family and community in this book. Being that this is in a small town setting, it’s very much small town vibes. I really wanted to point this out because even though Hope has Avery and Clare, she’s essentially still on her own in a new environment. So when a certain incident arises in this book, we really see how the Montgomery family flocks to her defense and surrounds her in that family love. I love books that that sense of family and community, the way they rally to someone who has carved out a space of importance.

“But you stand up for me. You tell me the truth. You make me laugh, and you make me want. You let me be and feel who I am. And you fell in love with me even when you didn’t want to.”

We finally get a conclusion for Eliza and Billy in this book. We learn all about them, their story, and we receive a final closing moment with Eliza and all the main characters. While I’m still not a fan of the paranormal element, I liked how their story was wrapped up.

However, I do want to take a moment to address Ryder’s dream though. First, please make sure you practice self-care when you read that section. Most importantly, this is probably the most conflicting thing that could have been added into this book. Despite the paranormal element and how I dislike it, I liked that so much more than this one scene. Now, it might be reading too much into it, but this was an indirect way of trying to represent trauma and possible PTSD. Basically, Ryder is “dreaming” yet he’s really reliving someone’s trauma and death during the war. For those who don’t know, those who suffer with PTSD or trauma can have flashbacks while they sleep. After this dream concludes, Ryder exhibits all the reactions of someone who just had a flashback. He’s woke up drenched in sweat, his heart was pounding, even when he talks with his family later on he says it felt so vivid, like he was living through it. I completely understand why we learned about this person’s death through Ryder’s “dream.” However, a character shouldn’t be having traumatic or PTSD flashbacks if they have never experienced trauma or have PTSD. There has never, ever been any indication that Ryder experienced something traumatic and there has never, in the whole trilogy, been a statement that Ryder has PTSD. So, I was not a fan of this particular scene and truly wish that whole scene had be executed in a completely different way.

Overall, I still enjoyed this book despite the paranormal element and despite the conflict with the trauma/PTSD representation in this book. The epilogue in this book is also lovely. It’s about Avery and Owen’s wedding. However, I’m still holding on to a glimmer of hope that one day we’ll get a novella about Hope and Ryder’s wedding. Fingers crossed. But I can’t recommend this trilogy enough. I love it with my whole heart and I’m constantly recommending it to fellow readers.

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The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy, #2) by Nora Roberts

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💐 The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy, #1) – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warning: Loss of a loved one, minor obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), talk of cheating/adultry, talk of abortion, talk of divorce, grief

Friends, this is probably my favorite out of all three of the books in this trilogy. I usually don’t like having favorites when I a trilogy or series, but this book just has my whole heart, and hits so close to home. And even though there’s the paranormal element in this book, it doesn’t have such a huge role in this books as it does with the other two books. And I just really love how Avery and Owen remind me of the way my spouse and I came into each other’s lives. I just love this book so, so much!

💐 Avery MacTavish – Owner of the popular pizza place, but has plans to run her own restaurant one day and wants nothing more than to play her part in helping the Montgomery family. Only she never planned for her feelings for Own Montgomery to be in the picture.

💐 Owen Montgomery – The softest, most organized boy and probably my favorite Montgomery boy. He has minor OCD and shows how things have to be done a certain way or it’s the highway. And in all his organization and needing to have a plan for everything, he never planned for Avery MacTavish to shake things up every plan he’s ever had.

💐 Elizabeth/Eliza – The spirit who lives at the historical inn the Montgomery family is fixing up. Waiting at the inn for her Billy to return to her.

💐 Justine Montgomery – Sassy mother of the Montgomery brothers and the head boss over every project the Montgomery boys take on.

💐 Beckett & Ryder Montgomery – Brothers to Owen Montgomery, Beckett the architect and husband to Clare Brewster/Montgomery, father of three boys and Ryder the muscles, the alpha male, of the Montgomery family.

💐 Clare Brewster/Montgomery & Hope Beaumont – Best friends to Avery. Clare is the wife of Beckett Montgomery, mother of three boys with an exciting bundle of love on the way and Hope just moved from D.C. to BoonsBoro, who now works as the inn keeper.

“Love runs the engine”

We follow Avery MacTavish who has never had any time to slow down. She runs the local pizza shop that always seems to be busy and every once in a while does she get a short pause to enjoy the little things in life. With a plan in mind, she wants nothing more than to take over an empty lot, the Montgomery family purchased, to turn into the restaurant of her dreams. But despite all of her planning, she never imagine Owen Montgomery, her lifelong crush, to play such a huge roll in her future. Owen Montgomery has had everything planned down to the final details with a backup plan in store. While the inn keeps him busy, he can’t stop his eyes or his mind from wandering to Avery MacTavish. Despite all of his fine planning, he never imagined Avery coming into to life and shaking up every plan for the future he’s ever had. Together, they’ll navigate what it means to be in a relationship and show each other that their future plans can include one another.

I said this before with the first book, but I’ll say it again here, I love all of these characters. They’re so thoroughly developed and you really get a feeling of who they are as individuals, but also when certain characters come together into the relationships forming. I also really love how we have a character who has some obsessive compulsive disorder aspects. Even though it’s minor, it’s still nice to see that kind of representation.

Of course, I have to talk about the family dynamics. Oh wow, when I say this book hits close to home, damn if it doesn’t hit close to home. For starters, Justine Montgomery is a character that deserves so much praise. Not only is she a widow and raise her three boys into wonderful men, but she’s a business woman and doesn’t tolerate any b.s. from anyone. She also talks about what it means to want companionship after the death of her husband. This leads to her having a conversation with Owen about her expressing her feelings and how she wants to have some fun in her life again, with a certain Will B. MacTavish, Avery’s father. Speaking of the MacTavish family, Avery’s mother walked out of her life at a very young age and was raised by her father, Willy B. Every time I read about Avery being raised by her father, my heart gets all warm for all the dad parents out there who are doing it all on their own. Single dads don’t get the spotlight they truly deserve and I’m glad we have such a strong, positive father-daughter relationship in this book. And when I mean this book hits close to home, even though I was raised in a single mother household, my father walked out on my life at a young age too. So it lands a certain way especially after Avery’s mother does come back into the picture and boy, it hit so hard. So you really see some great family dynamics in this book and I’m just really appreciative that there’s so much positivity, but it also shows the reality and the hardships that come with them.

What I love most about this book is the way Owen and Avery balance each other out. They’re so similar, yet so different in so many ways. Together, they’re like this unstoppable force that keep each other held together with love and determination. Without Owen, Avery would probably run herself into the ground and without Avery, Owen would never branch outside of his plans. Out of all of the couples in this trilogy, I truly love and appreciate the way Owen and Avery work. Plus, their conversations and the way their intimate scenes are set up, they hit all my expectations. And I also have to appreciate the way Avery’s father reminds Owen that even though she has the nickname, “Little Red Engine,” she still has bruises deep within her and Owen really provides a space where Avery can drop all her barriers, to show her vulnerable side.

“I want you to be careful with her, Owen. She’s had other boyfriends, but you’re different. You’ve got history and connections, and she’s had a sweet-on going. She’s tough, my girl, but she’s got places that bruise easy. It’s easy to forget that, so…don’t. I guess that’s it.”

This book also tackles so many important things that I don’t often find in the romance books I read. We really see Avery and Owen try to navigate what it means to love someone since childhood into adulthood and more so from Avery’s part, but trying to believe you’re worthy of love when someone who should have loved you and been there for you, rejects you. Now, I also want to state a warning, there is also a scene where abortion is talked about and it brings up a lot of discussion of pro-choice, pro-life, and when we should or shouldn’t include someone in these situations. I’m not going to talk about my feelings or opinions on that one, but there’s a whole scene of that in the book and it’s there to spark neutral discussion. I’ll just say this, there’s a lot of themes revolving around Avery’s mother that are there to spark discussion among readers.

“No matter how bad things are, and sometimes they were bad in our house, you want your mother to be there, to love you. And when she doesn’t, you feel . . . less.”

The only reason this book didn’t get the five stars is of course, the paranormal element. I truly believe this would have been better without the paranormal element. While it doesn’t bother me that it’s there, it feels like it’s unnecessary at times. However, I understand why the paranormal element was thrown in and I know many readers love it. For this particular series, the paranormal element just doesn’t work for me. If you’re not a fan of paranormal elements, out of all the books in this trilogy, this book has the least amount of paranormal in it.

Overall, I love this series so much and I really love this particular book. I just really love the positive representation of family dynamics, the way Owen and Avery mesh so well together, and of course, Justine Montgomery throwing her wild business plans all over the place. It’s just a really fun time and it’s just my favorite of all three of these books. I mentioned in my review of the first book that I get asked about Nora Roberts all the time and I truly think this is one of the best series you should read if you’re new to Nora Roberts. It’s just a great way to be introduced to her writing and the way she tends to write couples. Ugh, I truly love this series with my whole heart.

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The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/loss of a loved one, grief, assault, talk of domestic violence, misogynistic language, sexist language, stalking

“I’ve wanted to be with you when I didn’t have the right to.”

Friends, if you’ve been here a while then you probably already know I’m a reader of Nora Roberts. Yes, yes, I know. I have heard it all. That’s not the point. I grew up on Nora Roberts. In fact, I’m a third generation reader of Nora Roberts so it’s only natural that I would read her books. So if you’re one of many who have followed me from the very beginning, then you probably already know what I’m about to say. That I love the Inn BoonsBoro series with my whole heart and soul, and if you were thinking about trying to read some books by Nora Roberts, the Inn BoonsBoro trilogy is a perfect place to start!

💐 Beckett Montgomery – Architect in the Montgomery family, social life consists of talking shop over pizza and beer with his brothers, and has been waiting to kiss Clare Brewster since they were sixteen.

💐 Clare Brewster – Widowed mother of three, Harry, Liam, and Murphy, runs the town bookstore, and absolutely in love with the inn the Montgomery family is fixing up and might be falling in love with a certain architect.

💐 Sam Freemont – The antagonist, a know womanizer and abusive partner known among BoonsBoro town folk, has his eyes set on Clare and refuses to take the hint of rejection, but soon starts forming a plan.

💐 Elizabeth – The spirit who lives at the historical inn the Montgomery family is fixing up.

💐 Justine Montgomery – Sassy mother of the Montgomery brothers and the head boss over every project the Montgomery boys take on.

💐 Owen & Ryder Montgomery – Brothers to Beckett Montgomery, Owen the organizer, the softest boy, and Ryder the muscles, the alpha male, of the Montgomery family.

💐 Avery MacTavish & Hope Beaumont – Best friends to Clare Brewster. Avery owns the local pizza shop and Hope just moved from D.C. to BoonsBoro for a fresh start.

I love all of these characters (except Sam Freemont)! They’re wonderful, they truly paint the picture of a family who takes care of one another no matter what. It was everything my heart needed and loves to read about! Plus, the family dynamics are wonderful and shows them in such positive lights.

“That’s possible to likely. We’re involved, you and me. I’m telling you what I’m going to do because I figure when people are involved, when they matter, they tell each other.”

The Next Always follow our two main characters, Beckett Montgomery and Clare Brewster, as they navigate the challenges in their life, but navigate the road of romance to find one another. Beckett is trying to manage the challenges that come with rebuilding an inn, but also navigating the heart of a widowed mother who is too busy to consider love and romance. Clare is a busy mom of three sons, the owner of the local bookstore, and dealing with a creep who won’t take no for an answers. The last thing Clare has on her mind is starting a romance with anyone, let alone Beckett Montgomery, but sometimes the heart wants what it wants.

I say this all the time, I love this trilogy, the characters, the world building, and relationships. For those who didn’t know, the inn that’s talked about throughout this whole trilogy is an actual inn in BoonsBoro, Maryland that you can stay at or tour. While I haven’t been there myself, just from the photos alone and their website, it looks like an absolute dream!

This book also discusses many topics. For example, what it means to leave home to start a family and when it feels like you have no place to go, you can always go back home. That’s one of the main themes throughout this book, no matter what, you can always go home. This book also talks about what it means to be a single parent and how there are many challenges a single parent faces. I do say it often, I am from a single parent home and I watched my parent struggle with fiances, dating, and feeling like the only person they could rely on was themselves. And I think Clare’s character really opens the floor up for discussion for single parents and the hardships they may face.

“Harry, I promised you something. I said I’d clear it with you before I asked your mom to marry me. I need you to tell me it’s okay if I do.”

I also really love how you get the true feeling of small community and small town vibes with this book. When you read this book, you get a sense of everyone looks after one another. Also true to small towns, you pick up on how fast “gossip” flies around BoonsBoro in this book. Not only that, the description of the book store, the pizza shop, and the inn are so vividly described that it feels like you’re walking around BoonsBoro.

I also want to take a moment to talk about the problem with Sam Freemont and the way Clare handles the situation with Sam Freemont. I think this might be something that causes a lot of readers to have an issue with this book or cause dislike. So, I thought I would come in and give a little perspective from someone who has experienced the things Sam Freemont does is this book. Of course, please make sure you practice self-care while reading the sections. Sam Freemont is a character in this book who has always been given everything he wants and if he can’t have it, he takes it. Sam’s character starts off as a narcissist, but over time escalates to stalker, but eventually develops to showing signs of psychopathic traits. Sam refuses to hear Clare’s rejects, refuses to take a hint, and it has been indicated that Clare has been hiding the situation from everyone, including her best friends. As someone who has gone through having a stalker and people in my life showing psychopathic traits, Clare’s action or natural response is an accurate representation of those who have gone through these situations. It’s not the correct response, but it is accurate and valid because most of the time, you convince yourself it’ll stop all on it’s own.

Despite all the things that happen within this book, I think the part that dulled my experience was the paranormal element in this book. When I first read this book, I was head over heels and while I still love this trilogy, the paranormal element wasn’t my favorite part. I think if it was removed, I would have been able to give this the five stars I had originally gave it.

Overall, this was a reread for one of my favorite series and even though it only got four stars, I still love this series. I’m always asked what is the best place to start with Nora Roberts books and I will always say this series. The family dynamic will have you falling in love, small town vibes, there’s an inn involved, and characters you will love with your whole heart. There’s something in here for everyone and I just can’t stop recommending it.

Read for the Stay Home Reading Rush 📖

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The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, #1) by Tessa Dare

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Abandonment, emotional abuse, talk of past war themes, mental abuse (by the male love interest to himself), scene of PTSD/trauma

“For this moment, there was no before and no after. There was only now, and now was everything.”

Friends, historical romance is not my genre for books, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say this historical romance gave me everything! For my first true historical romance and first Tessa Dare read, this absolutely blew me out of the water. I laughed, I sobbed and cried, I clutched my pearls, and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series!

🏰 Duke of Ashbury – Coming home from the war, most of his body is severely burned and scarred. It has taken him great amounts to recover, but even after recovering, his engagement is broken off and has a falling out with many friends. Now, Ash keeps himself locked away within his estate and finds himself in the position of needing to sire a son.

🏰 Emma Gladstone – The Seamstress who made the dress to the betrothed of Ash. Yet, no one paid her for all the hard work and labor that went into making the dress. Emma has been living on her own and is desperate need of money. So she takes it upon herself to go collect what is owed and march up to the Duke’s estate.

Yet, the Duke will not only pay her for the dress, oh no, he will also take her hand in marriage and make her his Duchess; even though she doesn’t come from a family of wealth, has no name of power, and has been living on her own for quite a while now. However, this offer is mostly for the Duke’s gain because he is in need of a son and not a marriage of romance like Emma secretly wishes. The Duke expects Emma to take his offer, but it will only be in name. He will come to her every night to try to conceive a child, and once she’s pregnant, he will pack her up to send away into the country to live on her own and raise his heir. It’s an offer too good to pass up especially when Emma’s friend is in need of help, and Emma will realize that this is an offer that could change everything she ever knew, completely.

I loved this story. From the very beginning it gave me Beauty and the Beast vibes. I was almost tempted to giving it the label of a retelling. It was so good and even some side characters reminded me of characters from the original Beauty and the Beast story. I think many readers who love tat kind of theme, but don’t necessarily want the full Beauty and the Beast retelling experience. Alongside all of this, I really loved the way Emma and Ash came together. Whether it was the way they thought about the other inside their minds, the small moments they shared together, or even when they were in the bedroom. I loved every moment of it and I loved the banter they shared between one another. They complimented each other really well.

“Ash gripped the doorjamb so hard, his knuckles lost sensation. He wanted her to read the whole cursed book while he watched. He wanted the book to have a thousand pages.”

I do want to take a moment to say how much I loved Ash. While I haven’t seen war, I have had a lot of things happen to me that have left terrible scarring on the outside of my body. So having Ash as a character was like taking a swift blow to the gut. The way Ash talks about himself, how he feels about himself, and the way he can’t look past his scars… I know those feelings all too well. And I truly loved seeing the representation his character. Not to mention, he has moments where he does relive his traumatic experience and I have to say that this is accurate. A lot of times those who suffer traumatic experiences often relive it while they’re sleeping or having that “looking often into the distance” expression. I know because I live with PTSD every single day of my life and Ash’s character was so much more than I expected him to be. So I’m really glad the author took the time and effort to craft Ash the way he is.

With all of this being said, there was one thing that really threw me for a loop and that was the cover. It is said in the book that on one side of Ash’s body he is fully burned and scarred, but I truly wished the author and publisher would have taken the time to truly show the representation. While I understand why the cover is the way it is, I would have really loved to have seen that representation on he cover of this book.

Overall, I loved this and this won’t be the last of my Tessa Dare adventures. I think now is the perfect time to pick up this series and start power reading it. I’m so thankful for Kayla from Books and Blends because she know exactly what books are going to hit my soul in all the right ways! And I had to include one final quote because she told me I needed to add this (I was laughing so hard and still am)! This quote reminds me so much of my spouse and many of my friends. It was just bloody brilliant and I will never get over that quote! On that note, this book is fantastic and I can’t wait to start the next in the series.

“Because,” he said, “I like to know the names of the people I despise. I keep them in a little book and pore over it from time to time, whilst sipping brandy and indulging in throaty, ominous laughter.”

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Fix Her Up (Hot and Hammered, #1) by Tessa Bailey

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Abandonment, depression, emotionally abusive parent, talk of divorce

“You have to fight for what you deserve. What you want is no more or less important than what anyone else wants.”

Holy shit, friends… This might be the best damn romance I have read all year so far. When everyone said to go listen to the audiobook and then never gave an explanation why, I finally understand. It’s so good, so steamy, and definitely the first time my spouse has ever saw me listening to a sexy read on audiobook. What an experience for the both of us! Don’t let this cover fool you, this book is too hot to trot and I’m still quaking. For my first Tessa Bailey read, it hit the ball right out of the park!

We follow two main characters who grew up in the same small town together. But after five years have past, one of them returns home, they both realize that maybe you just need someone who really believes in you to make a brighter, happier future.

Georgette Castle – 23-year-old clown, an actual birthday party clown, and the youngest or “the baby” in her whole family, and you better believe that they have no problem letting her know they never take her seriously.

Travis Ford – 28-year-old, who’s newly retired professional baseball player, due to an injury. But after moving back to his hometown, he’s struggling now more than ever.

Both Georgie and Travis want to be taken seriously by everyone around them. So the two of them come together to strike up an agreement, a friendship agreement, that start with a few meals, some deep cleaning, and one broken fireplace. But all of these things can lead to so much more and soon a fake-dating act is sprung! Travis wants to look more wholesome so he can land a job that brings him back to baseball. While Georgie wants everyone to see her as more than the comedic relief.

“We’re not about cutting people out of our lives. We’re about refusing to accept anything less than what we deserve. About realizing that we’re all important here despite mistakes or bad relationships or lackluster careers.”

And of course, sex is completely out of the question especially once Travis finds out she’s a virgin. Sparks fly, it becomes hard to keep hands to themselves, yet Travis doesn’t want to be the stepping stone to Georgie’s sexual awakening. Meanwhile, Georgie knows she’s different from Travis, wants different things, things Travis doesn’t want to give her. All of this mixed together, I was on cloud-nine, from the angst all the way to watching the chemistry ignites flames between these two characters. Watching these two figure out their attraction and discovering how strong their pull was to one another, absolutely priceless!

Let me just say, I was screaming for every time Travis would say ‘babygirl.’ Most people would find it very cringey with how often it was said, but I was living for it. The entire time I was constantly reminded of Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds and how deep their connection is. It also made me super soft because my own partner uses that nickname to show endearment. So I was wrapped in some deep feelings and felt my own little flame in my chest burn while reading this book.

“You . . . accept me. Exactly as I am. But you still change me for the better.”

Overall, I can understand why many readers had issues with this book. I see you, your opinions are valid. However, this book was perfection and this was something that I ultimately needed to help bring a little light back into my life, right now. I loved the dirty talk, I loved reading how both characters viewed one another, and the fake-dating was so good! This was my very first Tessa Bailey, gotta say, color me impressed because now I need to read more by her. I have no idea why I put this off for so long!

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No Tricks, Just Treats by Tijan, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting, and Tara Sivec

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Toxic relationships, cheating, stalking, manipulation, mental abuse, drug addiction/drug abuse, alcohol abuse, talk of infertility, death/murder, graphic violence, implications of an eating disorder, body shaming.

Four love stories all wrapped up and bound in a deliciously fall book. Full of sweet moments, thrills, chills, and will leave you screaming.

Dearest readers, I truly wish I had loved this book as much as I did when I first picked it up. When I saw this book, my heart flew right out of my chest with the thought of some fall romance, let alone in a bind-up of four stories. Sadly, I’m disappointed, un-amused, and quiet frankly, I never want to pick this book up ever again. I wish I could have loved this bind-up, but this book just wasn’t for me.

Like with every bind-up, whether for graphic novels or books, I like to do a spoiler free breakdown (to the best of my ability). This breakdown will include all four stories, a brief description of the short story, my thoughts and rating of each story.

🍁 Fallen Crest Nightmare by TIJAN – ⭐⭐

Sam, Mason, and the rest of their gang enter a fun Halloween-themed weekend with pumpkin carving, a girls’ night out, and a haunted house―until things take a turn into something far more sinister than they could have expected…
Description from GoodReads

If you like a spin-off on the movies Scream, Sorority Row, and The Nightmare on Elm Street all mashed together, then this is a story you’re going to want to read! Sadly, this wasn’t quite my cup on tea. The biggest issue I had with this story was the “date rape” scene in this story. It was horribly cringey because all the girls were too drunk, drinks kept appearing at their table, and the main character of this story definitely had indications of being drugged, and the theme of the main character being drugged was a common theme throughout the rest of the story from that point. This story just didn’t sit right with me. I would have been fine if this story just stuck with the stalking element, but I was cringing by the end of this story.

🍁 So Much More by J. DANIELS – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Four couples from Alabama reunite on Halloween for an evening of thrills and chills. Between haunted mazes, sexy stolen moments, and good old-fashioned trick-or-treating, this Halloween promises surprises, shocks, and maybe even love for all.
Description from GoodReads

Out of all the stories in this book, this is probably my favorite of them all. I loved seeing all the diverse couples and reading about how each couple interacts with their lovers. I also loved how there was infertility representation in this story. I especially loved the way the character with infertility expressed her feelings and you really got a feel for the emotions she was having. The only thing I didn’t like was how the news was broken to the character with fertility struggles. I feel like it was a round-bout way of telling her and for myself, I would want to be told directly by my friend or in-law and not through someone else. That’s just my own two cents and with my own personal fertility issues. Overall, I really loved this story and it ended on such an endearing note!

🍁 Getting Down by Helena Hunting – ⭐⭐⭐

Ruby Scott wants to have a party! With the help of her best friend Amalie―and Amalie’s fiancé’s budget―the two of them throw a Halloween-inspired fund-raiser. But no event goes off without a couple of hitches.…
Description from GoodReads

This has two perspectives, one from Ruby and the other from Amalie. Out of all the stories, this story has the most intimate and sexy scenes in it. It’s a real good time and there’s some really hilarious moments in here. My biggest issue with this series is mostly with Amalie and her fiance. Amalie comes off as easily manipulated and in honesty, her whole engagement comes off as a toxic relationship of abuse. There’s a lot of moments of Amalie being body shamed, there’s a few scenes where you could consider that she has an eating disorder, there’s scenes of the fiance being overly possessive of Amalie where he actually starts to hurt her or causes her discomfort, and so forth. It’s just wasn’t a good time. However, Ruby and Bane’s relationship was a joy ride! All I have to say is Catwoman, Batman, and the supply closet. And this amazing quote!

I’ve shared the size of Bane’s cock with her. I’ve mentioned my new religion: the Church of Bane Cock. I’ve written sonnets about how beautiful it is. Not really, but I’ve made up a couple of limericks.

🍁 The Pumpkin Was Stuffed by Tara Sivec – ⭐⭐

The Holiday family is coming together for Halloween. As Sam and Noel prepare for their upcoming life with a new baby, their crazy family and friends pull out all the tricks and treats and jack-o’-lanterns to make sure this ghostly holiday is one to remember…or, will it turn out to be one they’d rather forget?
Description from GoodReads

Okay, let me grab my glass of wine for this. Let me start off by saying this, clowns. Clowns galore. If that’s you’re thing then you’re going to love this story, but as someone who has a bad association with clowns, this is not something I wanted to read about. My second issue was with the aunt. At first, I had no problem with this character until the scene where everyone was putting together the wedding goody bags. The fact that the drug addiction and abuse is so bad with this character that drugs got put in all the goody bags including the bags for the children just blew my mind. That was the point where I wanted to put this book down and never pick it up again. I don’t mind stories with a crazy and chaotic family, but the aunt diverts all attention away from the story. The only saving grace this story had for me was the ending. I think the ending brought a little happiness back into this story.

As an overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who isn’t familiar with these authors. Mostly due to the fact that this whole book feels like you’ve had to read other series that lead into this book. If you’re someone who is going into this book and you’ve never read anything by any of these authors, it’s really easy to tell that these characters have been established in past series. And just to clarify, it’s not that this book was bad or anything, I just don’t think this was the right book for me to read. I personally struggled with trying to get into this book, to find reasons to care about the characters, and there was just so many moments I couldn’t stop cringing at. But please, take my opinion with a grain of salt because this is my first time ever reading something by any of these authors.

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War by Laura Thalassa

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🌻 Pestilence (The Four Horsemen, #1) – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Trauma/PTSD, war themes, graphic violence, death, loss of a loved one, grief, decapitation, talk of rape/attempted rape, sexual assault, assault, animal cruelty/death of animals, loss/death of a child, and much more!

“Miriam Elmahdy’s Guide to Staying the Fuck Alive: (1) Bend the rules—but don’t break them. (2) Stick to the truth. (3) Avoid notice. (4) Listen to your instincts. (5) Be brave.”

They came to earth—Pestilence, War, Famine, Death—four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.

Miriam Elmahdy has suffered enough tragedy, enough trauma in her life. Each day is a game of survival and scavenging for anything that is bound to help keep her safe. It also helps to have five rules to make sure you stay safe and make it through the day. Until War descend upon her village and suddenly she becomes his main target. Now she’s thrown into a strange whirlwind of life at War’s camp and he’s suddenly claiming she’s his wife. Now thrown into a new game of survival, how will Miriam pull through all of this blood shed? And more importantly, can War find peace and will love prevail from all the bones and ruin?

Dearest reader, I truly thought I was going to fall in love with this book. It’s with a heavy heart that I have to say I have never been more disappointed, more horrified, more furious than I have with any other romance book. Between my dearest friend (who buddy read this book with me) and myself, I definitely appreciate and liked this book more than her. However, my heart is so heavy because I truly wanted to love this book more than Pestilence.

“Oh man, step one is some asshole claiming you’re his wife, and step two, shit suddenly gets real.”

Year 13 of the Horsemen. After Pestilence fell at the hands of love, War has descended upon the Earth and is here to deliver judgment. His course is set of Jerusalem, New Palestine and that’s where he encounters Miriam. Miriam has lost everyone and everything she cares most about. Now on the day she decides to go out to scavenge for materials and parts, she will face a bigger challenge than she’s ever has to before. Facing off with War, Miriam quickly realizes she’s in over her head and now she’s been taken prisoner. Before long, War is claiming she is his wife and is desperately trying to court her. Only Miriam is having none of that. Miriam does anything she can to say the lives of innocence, but she’s just one person trying to stop the chaos War delivers to mankind.

Once again, it was incredibly easy to fall in love with War. I stated this in Pestilence, but I will stated it again here. If you go into this book knowing who War is, what his purpose is, and know that he has only ever experienced the worst desires of humankind’s hearts then you’ll have no trouble at all falling in love with War. He’s a tall, rippling muscular, olive skinned man with dark hair and wears dark eyeliner. What more could you want?! Oh yeah, he also has the power to raise the dead and I’m living for the necromancy! What I loved most about War was he had never truly experienced the kindness and love of humankind before. He had never witnessed someone who would defy all odds to save others over themselves nor has he ever experienced the softness a human heart can hold. He has only ever found hate and evil intentions in the hearts of the majority of humankind. However, in this book we see War learn about the softness of a human heart, experience love, grow a conscience, and learn what it means to lose something you hold dear to your heart. I really loved his character development and I thought he was a well developed part of this book.

I briefly mentioned necromancy and I have to take a pause to elaborate on why I loved this element so much! One, necromancy is such an underrated power, in my opinion. It’s not often shown in books and I have a little appreciation of necromancy because it’s one of my spouse’s favorite powers. And secondly, I went into this book expecting everything that comes with war. I knew there was going to be graphic content, there would be death and loss, and I knew there was going to be a lot happening. What I wasn’t expecting was necromancy and how the power of necromancy comes into play in this book! I loved that twist and is was one of the most pleasant surprises I encountered in this book.

Also, as a little side tangent, this is a little appreciation that we get some information on Pestilence in this book as well as another cameo of my favorite boy, Thanatos (otherwise known as the horseman, Death). All the blessings and if you can’t picture Thanatos being a sassy, no nonsense kind of guy then I don’t know what you’re doing!

“No,” I say, my eyes meeting his in the near-darkness. “Not love itself.” Everything I’ve ever loved I’ve lost. There’s no beauty in that. “It’s the power of love that I find beautiful.” It can change so many things—For better, or worse.”

Even with a lot of the good and world development this book, I still had issues with this book. In fact, I had a lot more issues with this book than I did with Pestilence. And please, even though I stated the content and trigger warnings at the beginning of this review, please use caution with this book. There is a lot of graphic content and a lot of scenes that had affected my mental health while reading this book. So please make sure you practice self-care before, during, and after reading this and be in the right head space.

The first thing I feel like I have to address is the animal cruelty/death of animals. While I won’t go into too much detail, there is a lot of talk and descriptions of aviaries being set on fire, birds being harmed, and other depictions. As someone who loves birds, is very sentimental about birds, does bird watching, and really appreciates birds and what they stand for, this was content that I didn’t want to read about. I got really emotional, I cried a few times, I had immense anxiety reading about these parts, and it was soul shattering. I never want to read this kind of content ever again.

Now that we’ve cleared that out of the way, Miriam became my first true issue with this book. Before you break out pitch forks and torches, let me explain why she became a problem character. For the first half of this book, I never really had an issue with her actions or how she was treating certain situations. Until the three-quarter mark of this book, The minute she stole Deimos, I knew the way I was going to view Miriam was going to change. Then shortly after that moment, Miriam decided to take War’s own sword and try to kill him, with his own weapon, while he was sleeping, unarmed. That was the moment I started reevaluating my view of Miriam and everything thing she had done up to this point. I say this all the time, but I will say it again; I will never, ever support characters who try to do harm to another character who is unarmed or they’re not in a situation that is life threatening. This scene was completely unacceptable and honestly, I wish Miriam’s “punishment” had been more extreme. And I say that due to the fact that War has literally done everything for Miriam. From coming to her rescue, to sparing her life multiple times, to giving her the aviaries, all the way to preventing her from dying; Miriam took all of it for granted. She used sex as a weapon to have pull and sway over War, she used love itself as a weapon to make War go against his purpose/very nature and took it away from him as a form of punishment if he didn’t do as she asked, she undermined War and his men every chance she got, she disobeyed War when he was trying to protect her from getting hurt, and there were plenty more moments than that throughout this entire book. The entire three-quarters of this book is literally Miriam doing all of this or complaining how she shouldn’t care about a horseman of the apocalypse. It was a lot to push through.

My second biggest issue of this book was the length of the book itself. As I mentioned, three-quarters was mostly the same thing happening over and over again. Miriam doing anything and everything to undermine War. However, that’s not the only issue. It takes half of the book before we even see any intimate, sexual action between War and the main heroine. There wasn’t even any sexual tension built that would encourage the reader to continue reading. You could tell there was sexual tension between the main characters, but for the first half of this book it was block after block of nothing happening. Also, the first three-quarters of this mostly camp life or War and his men rushing off to destroy another city. It become really repetitive and aside from isolated incidents that happen in certain locations, it’s the same pattern of camp life, destroy a city, camp life, travel to the next city. It’s very repetitive. We don’t actually see a distinct change in everything until a little bit past the three-quarter mark which introduces a whole new issue.

My last and final issue I had with this book is a spoiler so I will keep this as spoiler free as possible. This issue basically consists of a trope that immensely bothers me especially when it’s thrown into the end of a book. More specifically, it felt like this trope was thrown near the end of the book to help push the story forward and help the wrap up of this book. I honestly felt like this could have been thrown in sooner which could have helped with the length of this book, but it wasn’t and it was really hard to try and push through it. Even more so due to the scene that is very triggering and I will state this now for anyone who it might trigger or effect, that triggering scene consists the death/loss of a child. So beware of that! I’m very thankful I was warned about that scene because even though I knew about it going in, it made me sick to my stomach and it was incredibly hard to finish the end of this book because of that scene. I never want to read that kind of situation again. Ever.

“Loss is a wound that never heals. Never never never. It scabs over, and for a time you can almost forget it’s there, but then something—a smell, a sound, a memory—will split that wound right open, and you’ll be reminded again that you’re not whole. That you’ll never fully be whole again.”

Overall, I did enjoy this book to a certain extent and this was the hardest three stars I ever gave. I truly wanted to love this book more than the first book in this series. However, there was a lot of content that became very problematic for me and sadly, this didn’t even uphold the four stars that I wanted to give. And in all honesty, I’m not sure if I want to finish this series because of the sour taste this book left in my mouth. I really want to read the next two books especially because Death is so far my favorite out of all the horsemen, but I’m really unsure at the moment. If you do find yourself getting into this series, definitely be aware of all the content and trigger warnings, and please, be in the right head space while reading these books.

Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends | Her Review ❤️

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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“I love him so much it’s like a thread piercing me. Punching holes. Dragging through. Stitching love into me. I’ll never be able to untangle myself from this feeling. The color of love is surely this robin’s-egg blue.”

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy is favored by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. She’s sweet, charming, and accommodating to everyone. Well…almost everyone. Joshua Templeman is feared and hated by everyone at Bexley & Gamin especially by Lucy Hutton. Lucy and Josh go at each other like cats and dogs until things begin to change between them. When there’s a big promotion put up for grabs between Lucy and Josh, the tension reaches a climax. Suddenly, hate seems to slowly be burning into like and Lucy isn’t too sure what to make of it.

Yes friends, I finally read The Hating Game! It seems like everyone and their mother has already read this book and I’m now catching up. But I’m so thankful that I finally did pick this book up because I’m head over heels in love with this story! Holy cow, I wish someone would have convinced me to pick this book up sooner rather than later. This is going to be a romance I’m thinking about months down the road. This book it truly that fantastic!

“Books were, and always would be, something a little magic and something to respect.”

Did I mention this book takes place in the heart of a publishing company? Well, it does! What book dragon doesn’t love a good setting where books are made and published? Actually, Bexley & Gamin is a merger between two major publishing companies that came together to prevent themselves from going out of business during hard times.

🌻 Lucy Hutton – Executive assistant to Helene Pascal, the original CEO of Gamin.
🌻 Josh Templeman – Executive assistant to Mr. Bexley, the original CEO of Bexley.

Our two main characters, Lucy and Josh, both work for the two CEOs or should I say co-CEOs of the two companies. They also happen to share a cubical right outside of the offices of their CEOs. Not only are their bosses constantly competing with one another, but there’s a high tension of competition that resides between Josh and Lucy. Constantly trying to be the fastest or trying to assert their dominance in any way they can. But the best part is throughout their day, they play these little games that challenge each other. They go back and forth insulting each other, trying to one-up the other. While they may constantly say how much they hate each other, everyone else seems to have a different idea.

However, everything begins to change when their bosses announce a big promotion and one of them has a pretty good chance at achieving it. During this time, a lot of things slowly come to light. Games ensure, highly intimate moments, and out of all of it; the two of them start to really think about all the years they’ve been together, all the work they’ve done and how much is truly enough, and their true emotions beginning to come to light. That maybe, just maybe, there was never really any hate between the two of them in the first place.

But their dynamic is absolutely fantastic! Half the time I was reading about their banter, I was choking on a drink. They way they go at each other reminds me a lot of the way my spouse and I bicker and banter with one another. It’s so funny and there’s a light energy to the book as a whole. Josh is so witty and snarky and Lucy is so sassy and she has no problem with speaking her mind. Honestly, I loved it and Lucy reminds me so much of myself.

““Truth or Dare,” he says. He always knows the exact right thing to say.
“Dare.”
“Coward. Okay, I dare you to eat the entire jar of hot mustard I have in my fridge.”
“I was hoping for a sexy dare.”
“I’ll get you a spoon.”
“Truth.””

I really loved Lucy. While I like Josh and he has his own perks, I felt completely connected to Lucy. She’s short, works extremely hard at her job, comes from a family who never had a lot of money, and she’s very caring about those around her. When Lucy threw herself in front of a certain teammate during the paintball scene, the entire time I was thinking “Oh my god, this is me. I would do this and then I would regret it the next day.” There’s also the part where she stands up for Josh and I was instantly reminded of myself because I stand up constantly for my family and friends. It was like I was reading a book about my mirror twin. There were so many moments spot on and I just truly loved Lucy. I could write a list, but I think you can see, I truly adored her character.

Josh on the other hand was a fantastic romantic lead for Lucy. His personality really balanced out Lucy and I really loved that. What stood out to me the most was the confidence Josh radiated in this book, but later on we learned that he has a lot of insecurities and body issues. I loved that we got a flipped script and we finally received a male character who shows those vulnerable sides to the person they care most about. It was absolutely heart warming. And he also said and did a lot of amazing things. I mean, that elevator scene. I’m still swooning and fanning myself!

While I really loved a lot of moments and parts of this book, I can understand why some readers may not like it as much. There’s a wedding date scene and that whole entire scene becomes very obvious and predictable. A lot through that part I felt a lot of high levels of anxiety because as the reader we can see the direction it’s heading, even though Lucy was unaware and everyone else was acting completely ignorant about the whole thing. I wish the matter had been addressed sooner because I think it’ll cause a lot of readers unnecessary anxiety.

The other thing I think a lot of readers will have issues with is Lucy constantly having issues with taller people and the book having a lot of emphasis on Lucy’s height. Now, I think the height emphasis was a little unnecessary, I can understand why Lucy would have issues with taller partners. I’m 4’11 and my spouse is 6’6 so we have a big height difference going on so I can understand the weariness. And to be honest, I’ve had my fair share of concerns with taller partners in the past and most of those issues have to do with a lot of “man-handling”. While I don’t want to get into details about that, I do understand Lucy and a bit of her panic when it comes to the idea of a taller partner. I definitely think this will be an issue for some readers just because of all the emphasis that gets placed on height and size. So that will definitely be something to be aware of.

“All I want to do is kiss you until I fall asleep. I want to slide in between your sheets, and find out what goes on inside your head, and underneath your clothes. I want to make a fool of myself over you.”

Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book. I think it might actually be one of my favorite reads of the year so far. The only true complaint I have is the cover feels underwhelming and I definitely would have liked a little more spice. But every ounce of hype you’ve heard about this book is true. I didn’t know if I was going to love this book going into it and I’m so happy that I fell in love with it! It was heartwarming, hilarious, and just something I desperately needed to read. What a captivating story, I’m completely hooked for Sally Thorne now!

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Pestilence (The Four Horseman, #1) Laura Thalassa

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/murder, graphic death/violence, talk of rape, scenes of physical abuse/torture, scene of severe animal abuse/cruelty, trauma/PTSD, sexual scenes, manipulation

“Love is the greatest gift we can give or receive”

They came to earth—Pestilence, War, Famine, Death—four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.

Sara Burns is ready to give up everything she’s every had in life if it means putting an end to Pestilence. With her shotgun loaded, she’s prepared to take on the horseman alone… to bad no one every told her the angelic horseman can’t be killed. Now she’s his prisoner and he’s prepared to make her suffer for everything she’s done to him. But when you spend so much time with someone, things can change and it’s not just Sara who’s changing, but her feelings are as well. Who knew falling in love with a horseman of the apocalypse would be so hard, but so delicious?

Friends, I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book! It was so incredibly good and I was a puddle for this book. Even if I wanted to read something else, I don’t think I would have been able to pull myself from this book. I’m ready for book two already!

Pestilence takes place in five years of The Four Horsemen of the apocalypse raining holy terror upon the Earth. The first horseman up to wreak havoc is Pestilence. Disease, infection, and plague ripple to the mortals who fall in his path. Sara Burns is your average person except she’s the unlucky firefighter who drew her burnt match to face down Pestilence and stop his reign of terror. She also becomes the unlucky soul to be the first captive by the first horseman, as punishment for her showing no mercy to an angelic devil. But as the unlikely pair continue their travels, they both slowly begin to change one another and love and mercy soon becomes a string that keeps them together.

As I read this book, it was incredibly easy to fall in love with Pestilence and what he was meant to do. Sure, he was mean, at times cruel, and had a job to end humankind by spreading plague and disease, but the reality was he has only seen the horrible, unimaginable actions of mortals. He has never known love, compassion, he didn’t know about beauty inside a human’s soul. Pestilence was slowly learning many things that he never once knew about humankind and I can appreciate that throughout this book he was slowly learning and evolving. But honestly, if you go in expecting anything less than Pestilence learning about mortals and becoming more in touch with his humanity… you probably will hate his character with a burning fire of rage. I really loved his character development and even after the first few times, I knew he was a good man even if he had to do this horrible job.

However, our heroine was a completely different story for me. At first, I thought she was just doing what anyone would do if they were taken prisoner. The reality was at 60% of the way through this book she just became the most irritating heroine I have read about. She ends up falling in love with Pestilence, Pestilence for who he is, but at this point where she still can’t understand why Pestilence is still spreading his plague and standing by his mission to end humankind. This is where all my issues start happening and why I ended up giving this book four stars.

“Getting angry at one of the horsemen of the apocalypse for bringing about the end of man is like getting angry at ice for being cold.”

As the reader, we know who and what Pestilence is from the very beginning and so does our main heroine. So my biggest issue was Sara constantly trying to use her love as a way to change Pestilence into the kind of man that she wanted him to be. From my reading standpoint, she was very manipulative with how she would use her love for him and his love for her against him to mold him into a “better man.” Yes, it sucks that he was sent to Earth to destroy humankind, but you don’t use love as a weapon to change someone or even force someone to change. She knew he was from the beginning and she should have been a little more open with loving him. Not to mention, she also fights Pestilence every step of the way in this book. Even when she’s in love with him, she still continues to inflict a great deal of pain to Pestilence. For example, she would find ways to cheapen love that was blooming between them and referred to it as just being “lust.” There were even times in this book where she devalued his feelings and make him feel horrible because they’re suppose to be “enemies.” All of it got old and irritating really fast.

Which brings me to another point. I think a lot of readers will be annoyed with Pestilence because it seems like he gives his love too easily. Not to mention, he was constantly sharing his feelings and thoughts with Sara. However, he is a virgin when he is with Sara and has never known the full extent of what love truly is or feels like until Sara came into his life. So he gives his love very easily, he is overly affectionate, overprotective of her, and wants all of Sara’s attention. And as someone who once had a dating life, this is very accurate of some of the partners I had in the past. I think this can be a hate it or love it type of situation. It personally didn’t bother me, but it might be bothersome for other readers.

“We only get so many minutes alive,” I say. “When you find someone worth spending that time with, you don’t want to share those minutes with anyone else.”

Overall, I truly enjoyed this book. I loved the world building and I loved Pestilence’s character development. It almost felt like I was in the world as I was reading it. However, I definitely think if Sara’s character had developed better, made better choices, and didn’t act so toxic at times, I think I would have given this book five stars. The main heroine was almost the reason why I didn’t want to finish this book because she’s so repetitive, so manipulative, almost borderline mentally abusing the love interest, and in all honesty, Pestilence deserved a better partner to love. I am, however, incredibly excited to read the next book, War. I’m ready, super excited, and I can’t wait to see what book two has in store for us!

Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends | Her Review! ❤️

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